For my first ever foray into South India, Coorg sounded like an ideal destination. I agree it doesn’t really qualify as either unusual or unknown. But it sure came across to us as a hidden jewel, justifying in every way its fame as Switzerland of India.
While travelling to Coorg, we stopped over at Murudeshwara (Read about it here) for nearly two hours.
Coorg was a long way off. After negotiating a distance of more than 400 kms along a mostly sea-hugging, picturesque coastal highway, we crossed the Dakshinkannada border at about 6 pm and entered Kodagu district. From here on, it was a climb through hills.
The monsoon-drenched landscape around offered a sumptuous treat to the eyes. We drove in utter silence, taking in the hugely camera-friendly vistas lying in every direction that seemed like they had been designed personally by God.
Thick beetlenut plantations.
It was dark by the time we entered Madikeri town and headed for the home stay which would be our retreat for two nights. It was located in a quiet hillside neighbourhood on the outskirts of the town and took some effort to locate.
Next day, being quite hard-pressed for time, we had to begin early. After devouring a supremely delicious breakfast made by the landlady, we left at 8 am and started towards Dobare elephant camp. It would be a drive of approximately 40 minutes from Madikeri. Passing by this state-of-art hockey field of Sports Authority of India, we exited the town along Mysore road.
The road was a delight to drive on.
We could not but stop and indulge ourselves taking pictures of these large and beautiful flowers that had bloomed in hundreds on the hedges on either side of the road.
Dubare Elephant Camp
We reached Dubare without much difficulty, thanks to the precise landmarks given to us by our hosts at the home stay. We found ourselves on Cauveri river bank with the camp visible on the other side.
The Nyingmapa Mosastery
The Mosastery is located in a Tibetan settlement which is one of the many established by the government all over India to settle the refugees fleeing Chinese persecution.
The Monks’ hostel and the open courtyard in front, with flags et al, seems straight out of a martial arts movie. One half-expects a warrior to jump down straight from the roof, swords in hand, doing a few summersaults in air. I know it is stereotyping. But isn’t it fun!
The first view of the monastery.
Like most religious monuments and shrines, it aims to overawe the spectator with scale. The idols inside are as tall as a couple of storey, while the platforms on which they sit are as large as small houses. And all this is indoors.
Nyingmapa Monastery left me feeling very positive and calm.
This place is a bamboo forest grown on an island in River Cauveri. Due to its promotion as a tourist must-see, shops, stalls and rides have sprung up at its gate, selling everything from local coffee, spices and chocolates to kiddie toys.
Nisargdhama has elephants and ticketed rides are usually available. But this being monsoon, the animals had been employed for bamboo clearance and the rides had been halted, as the ticket guy apologetically informed us. Nevertheless, we got to see the giants in action, razing thick bunches of bamboo to ground with brute strength.
The way to Abbe Falls passed through breathtaking territory as seemed to be the wont in Coorg.
We had an hour of daylight left. Though we were tired, exploring the town seemed a good option.
Coorg is proud of its military tradition. In Madikeri’s most prominent square, stand two statues of its famous military heroes, namely Army Chief General Thimayya and Major Muthanna, the latter a posthumous winner of Shaurya Chakra.
I think the structure inside the garden is the mausoleum of a king.
On the other hand, I am sort of happy that I have an excuse to plan another (longer!) vacation in Coorg!